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EDITORIAL: Impeachment process no political game 

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Our opinion: Democrats and Republicans must put agendas aside as President Trump is investigated for possible misuse of office.

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There’s a strong argument to be made that Democrats would be wise to avoid proceeding with the impeachment of President Trump because of the political consequences. There is fear, in some circles, that taking that step would paint democrats as partisan hacks, emboldening Republicans, strengthening Trump’s standing and lead to his re-election.

Making the decision to proceed with impeachment for those reasons would be a sad commentary on the state of politics, which is already at a very low level. Bottom line: if the members of the House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, concludes there is cause, they should proceed without regard for the political consequences.

While impeachment of the president has been tossed around for months, it’s the recent revelation of details about a telephone conversation between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which President Trump strongly encouraged President Zelensky to investigate the business ties of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son that have pushed the issue to the forefront. The fact that the conversation was also about U.S military aid from Ukraine – which had been withheld – has raised the accusation of national economic pressure for personal political gain.

That’s a serious charge and it deserves to be investigated, regardless of any political blowback for either party.

It’s important to remember that impeachment is a vote by the US House of Representatives to charge a high-ranking government officer with misconduct. That step is not conviction; it’s a judicial process, similar to a grand jury handing down an indictment in a criminal case. 

The Constitution says a president may be impeached and removed over charges described as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The process is spelled out in the Constitution and requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate to convict and remove. That’s essentially the trial portion of the process.

There’s debate over what rises to the level of initiating impeachment. But based on history, it generally revolves around a perceived abuse of executive power. President Andrew Johnson was charged with violating the Tenure of Office Act (since repealed) and ignoring Congress when he fired Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in 1868. President Bill Clinton was charged with obstructing justice in his testimony related to the Monica Lewinsky investigation in 1998. 

Both Johnson and Clinton were acquitted by the Senate.

President Richard Nixon was seen as misusing government resources for his own political gain and obstruction of the investigation into the “Watergate” break-in. When the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment in 1974, Nixon resigned before they could be considered by the full House.

Here we are in 2019 and if the House’s collective judgment is that President Donald Trump misused his office and influence for personal political gain, that should be brought to the Senate for action on merit, and political consequences be damned. What’s right is right. What’s wrong is wrong. Regardless of party. Period.

In an opinion piece printed last weekend, columnist E.J. Dionne Jr., gets it absolutely right.

“The House’s job is to make a strong, coherent and focused case — and to trust the people’s moral sense and their reverence for our — institutions.”

This is an issue that must transcend partisan politics on both sides of the aisle.


This reflect the opinion of publisher Jeremy Waltner and former publisher Tim L. Waltner